Washington Monthly study ranks Judson top Liberal Arts College in the state

The recent college guide section of the Washington Monthly magazine had some good news for Alabama’s only women’s college. The magazine ranked Judson College the top liberal arts college in the state and placed it among the top 60 institutions in America.

The rankings rated the nation’s colleges and universities based on three categories: social mobility, research, and service.

Social Mobility

The Washington Monthly’s rankings reward colleges that are both effective and affordable for all segments of the country’s student population.

The “social mobility” indicator measured the recruitment of low-income students into the student population and their graduation rate. Nearly 50% of Judson students receive Pell Grants, and graduation rates rank the school 65th among the nearly 250 colleges studied.


This category in the Washington Monthly rankings measures money spent on research, the number of graduates who go on to earn PhDs, and the number of faculty who receive significant awards. Though Judson isn’t classified as a research college, Judson scored in the top half of the colleges studied.


Though Judson scored well in the social mobility and research rankings categories, one of the most striking areas of Judson’s ranking is its performance in the ‘service’ category.

Washington Monthly named Judson 6th in the nation for its institutional commitment to community service. Among campus-wide service projects, service learning components in many classes, and student-led service initiatives, more than 80% of Judson’s students volunteered in community service projects last year, encouraged and joined by faculty and staff members who believe in helping the Marion community.

The number of students per student population who go on to serve in the U.S. Peace Corps gave Judson a rank of 99 among the approximately 250 colleges included in the study, and community service participation and hours served gave Judson a rank of 72.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Perry County, the home county of Judson College, is among the poorest in the state with a median household income of just over $24,000–about 40 percent below the state average–and 30 percent of its residents live below the poverty level.

Judson president Dr. David Potts frequently exhorts students and faculty to “engage” the community through service. Judson freshmen begin engagement their first week on campus when they participate in “Marion Matters” each fall as part of Welcome Week, working in groups with faculty and staff throughout the community.

Judson is one of four colleges in Alabama, and the only private Christian college, classified as a “community engagement school” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For the fifth consecutive year, Judson was named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, a federal recognition for outstanding commitment to community service and civic engagement. This year, Judson also received the Honor Roll with Distinction commendation, for the first time placing it in the same ranking as the University of Alabama and Auburn University.

“The work of faith-based service and learning at Judson College places students in dialogue with the poor of the Black Belt and in meeting critical needs of children and families, thus providing a hand up,” Potts said. “The beauty of these initiatives is that we are, as Shakespeare said, ‘twice blessed’–the giver and receiver are both blessed by the exchange,” he said.  “Students and faculty alike find meaning in authentic service–living the exhortation of Christ in the 25th chapter of the gospel of Matthew.”

See the full Washington Monthly study at washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide.

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